Panel: Building Evidence: Exploring the Impact of Federal and Sub-Federal Immigration Policy on the Well-Being of Immigrant Children and Families
(Population and Migration Issues)

Thursday, November 8, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Marriott Balcony A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Dawnya Underwood, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Discussants:  Mark Greenberg, Migration Policy Institute and Jayshree Jani, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The Impact of Immigrant Deportations on Latino Segregation
Matthew Hall, Cornell University and Jacob Rugh, Brigham Young University

Our Children’s Fear: Immigration Policy’s Effects on Young Children
Wendy Cervantes, Rebecca Ullrich and Hannah Matthews, Center for Law and Social Policy

Worlds Apart: Exploring the Impact of Forced Family Separation on Young Immigrant Children
Benjamin J. Roth, University of South Carolina, Thomas M. Crea, Boston College, Jayshree Jani, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Dawnya Underwood, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

The United States today has the largest and most diverse immigrant population of any point in its history, but anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement practices at the federal, state and local levels have further isolated many immigrants from meaningful participation in this country’s social, economic, and political structures. This panel focuses particularly on the effects of these policies on the children of immigrants. The children of immigrants represent nearly 25% of all U.S. children under age 18, and 5.1 million were living with at least one undocumented parent between 2009 – 13. Children growing up in these mixed-status families are particularly vulnerable to shifts in immigration policy and enforcement practices. They are less likely to enroll in preschool and face significantly higher rates of linguistic isolation and poverty relative to national averages, but compounding these disadvantages is the stress experienced due to the possible (or actual) detention and deportation of family members. This raises questions about the short- and long-term effects of fear, strain, and family dissolution on immigrant children, especially those who are unauthorized or from mixed-status families.

This panel features leading scholars in the field of immigration and child welfare to examine the impact of recent federal and sub-federal immigration policies on immigrant children. The first paper provides a broad assessment of recent immigration policies and how they have affected young children (ages 0 – 8) in immigrant families. The second paper analyzes the trend of forcibly separating children and parents at the border, specifically the implementation of policies intended to protect the best interest of children placed in temporary foster care. The third paper examines the effects of state and local immigration enforcement on health outcomes for the children of immigrants.

The papers on this panel contribute to emerging scholarship on how evolving policies and practices associated with immigration law are at odds with core values that inform the U.S. child welfare system. There is a tension between family unity, the principle of child welfare policy to preserve the best interest of the child, and the evolving policies and practices associated with immigration policy and enforcement. The papers on this panel will provide empirical insight into the need for policy innovation in the face of this tension, and offer components of a revised and evidence-based framework for moving forward—at the local, state, and federal levels.

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